Howland brushes off Walton’s criticism

UCLA head coach Ben Howland took the high road after being lambasted on ESPN by commentator Bill Walton, one of the most renowned players in program history.

Walton has dished out harsh criticism of the program every time he’s sat courtside at Pauley Pavilion. Thursday night’s ugly win over Washington — one in which the Bruins (17-6, 6-3) shot below 40 percent for the third straight game — was no different, as the Hall of Famer harped on everything from UCLA’s style of play to the rows of empty seats.

Even as Walton all but explicitly called for Howland’s job, the 10th-year head coach kept a level head during a conference call on Friday: “That’s his job. It’s perfectly his right to be critical.”

“Bill was 60-0 his first two years,” Howland added. “His reference point is pretty special and I understand that. What he did and what they did here will be hard to see again in the history of college basketball. His expectations are so high, and I get it, but that’s what makes UCLA so special.”

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  • Marc

    He did what he was supposed to do. It’d be worse for him if he said anything else.

    I’ve gone from being a big fan of his to not being a fan of his, but I believe he should be treated with respect. He hasn’t purposely brought the program down to its knees; he’s doing what he thinks is right. It just isn’t going well, and UCLA should expect better.

    That doesn’t mean it should turn into a bruinsnation bloodbath. I honestly wish him well.

  • Howland has been here for 10 years. I appreciate the final fours but second place is the first loser. We aren’t close to getting a national championship and we are not a constant presence in the top 10 like other top programs.

  • Marques Johnson and Don MacLean have to step up as well and start being more critical of Howland.

  • The way Howland has handled Walton’s criticism should be commended especially considering that everyone is calling for his head.